South Africa optimistic over hosting India T20 cricket tour
Cricket South Africa has said it is confident it will be able to host India for three lucrative Twenty20 internationals in late August but is still trying find alternative dates for the tour of the West Indies.
Cricket has been shut down since March due to the coronavirus pandemic and the series is considered potentially vital for kick-starting both CSA and the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s economic recovery.
In a virtual media briefing yesterday, Jacque Faul, CSA’s acting chief executive, said: “We had a teleconference with India yesterday [Wednesday] and we are encouraged by their willingness to honour their agreement to play the three T20s in August, and if it’s postponed then maybe a bit later.”
However, before any advanced negotiations can take place, CSA will have to seek permission from government, a process that is already underway.
Faul said: “We’re seeking via Sascoc [the South African Sports Confederation] an audience with the sports minister to be given approval to, if needed, played behind closed doors. This will relate specifically to the potential of an incoming Indian tour.
“We’re going to be very innovative because it’s an important tour for us. As I’ve stated before, we’re very encouraged by India’s willingness.”
Graeme Smith, CSA’s director of cricket, meanwhile confirmed reports South Africa are committed to touring the West Indies – a trip that had been scheduled for mid-July.
He said: “We’ve spoken to the West Indies Cricket Board too regarding tour programmes. We’re also working with them to try and find an opportunity post their tour to England to fit that series in, whether it’s a neutral ground, in SA or in the Caribbean.
“We’ll have to see what restrictions on international travel is. We are exploring all options. Sport has to think like a business now and not just an events company. We need to get together and work out how to get cricket up and running.”
England is looking to host the West Indies and Pakistan in July and August.
Meanwhile, Cricket Australia is confident it will be able to host India for a test series later in the year and could also tour England for a limited overs series beforehand.
When asked about the prospects of India touring Australia at a roundtable held by Australia’s News Corp yesterday, Kevin Roberts, Cricket Australia chief executive, said: “I guess there’s no such thing as certainty in today’s world so I can’t say 10 [out of 10], but I’m going to say nine out of 10.
“I’d be really surprised if we can’t get the Indian tour away. But I wouldn’t, hand on heart, suggest we’ll have full crowds from the start. We’ll just have to wait and see how that goes.”
Australia had planned to tour England in July for a limited overs series before the coronavirus pandemic suspended the international schedule.
Roberts said after speaking to the England and Wales Cricket Board on Wednesday there was “some chance” Australia could tour England after the West Indies and Pakistan tours.
However, he said he was less confident about Australia’s chances of hosting the Twenty20 World Cup, scheduled to start in October, given the logistical challenge of bringing 15 teams into the country, adding: “We don’t have clarity on that one, yet. But as the situation continues to improve, you never know what might be possible. It’s ultimately a decision for the International Cricket Council.”
Elsewhere, the Sri Lanka government has scrapped plans to build a $40 million cricket stadium after former top players warned it would end up another white elephant project.
The stadium was proposed by Bandula Gunawardana, the minister for Information and Higher Education, and was to be built in his local constituency near the capital Colombo.
The project was backed by Sri Lanka Cricket but former international captains Sanath Jayasuriya and Mahela Jayawardene criticised the proposed plan saying the money would be better spent supporting young players.
In a statement, Sri Lankan prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, said: “It was decided at a meeting with former top players today that instead of the proposed Homagama stadium, it was better to spend the money on building school cricket.”
During Rajapaksa’s previous time in office between 2005 and 2010, he built a 35,000-capacity international cricket stadium in his home constituency Hambantota. The stadium, which was named after him, has had no Test matches played on the grounds.
The stadium hosted a one-day international between Sri Lanka and West Indies in February.